Charles Lindbergh and the kitten ‘Patsy’ (two stories)

There are a couple of well-known photographs of Charles Lindbergh with a kitten. He was the famous American aviator, who at the age of 25 made the first non-stop flight from New York City to Paris on May 20-21, 1927. Did Charles Lindbergh have a kitten? Was he a cat lover? Did he have a pet?

Kitten was a stray sheltering in the hangar

There are two stories regarding this cute kitten. The photographs of the kitten and Mr Lindbergh were taken at a press conference before he departed on his epic transatlantic flight. One of his mechanics handed the kitten to him. The mechanic had found the kitten seeking shelter in the hangar where his monoplane, the Spirit of St Louis, was being prepared for the flight.

So, this kitten was a stray but a domesticated stray which is clear by the cat’s cooperative behavior. Apparently, the mechanic or somebody else suggested that the kitten would be good company for Charles Lindbergh on his monotonous 33.5-hour, 3600-mile flight.

He said that he couldn’t take the kitten because it would be too cold and the kitten might die. As you can see in the photographs, he was very tender and gentle towards this kitten. I don’t have any information as to what happened to the kitten after the flight but I hope somebody took care of him or her.

Kitten was called Patsy and owned by Lindberg

The second story about this kitten is that Charles Lindbergh owned the kitten and named her Patsy. The story states that Patsy accompanied him on test flights in his Ryan monoplane and that after his famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean he was asked why he didn’t take Patsy with him to Paris and his response was that it would have been too dangerous as it would have risked the kitten’s life.

There is, therefore, an overlap in the stories in that he rejected taking the kitten on the journey but we don’t know for sure which story is correct. I think it is fair to say that the stray kitten story is the correct one.

First-hand report newspaper report

There is a first-hand account from the news media at the time reporting on Lindbergh taking off from New York. I am able, I believe, to publish the relevant section verbatim. Here it is:

The mechanics pronounced the machine ready. Lindbergh stepped into the cockpit, looked over his cargo and came out to walk once more around the plane, trying this and that. Someone spoke of the kitten that had been given him as a mascot.

“No, don’t put him in, it will be too cold”, he pronounced. “The kitten might die.” He thus expelled his only possible living companion for the 30 to 40 hours he hoped to be flying alone in terrible monotony.

“I will be in Paris tomorrow,” he assured B.F. Mahoney, the 26-year-old president of the Ryan Airlines of San Diego, Cal, Builders of Lindbergh’s planes as they exchange a final handshake.

His prediction was accurate. And through his statement about the kitten, he had demonstrated to the world that he was a kind and thoughtful person.

Below are some more articles on celebrity cats.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

1 thought on “Charles Lindbergh and the kitten ‘Patsy’ (two stories)”

  1. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote a number of books. If the Patsy the kitten story is correct and the kitten was actually adopted by Lindbergh, she might’ve known and might’ve referred to the cat in one of her books even though she only married Lindbergh some years later. Perhaps the kitten had grown into a cat and might’ve still been alive and familiar to her if Lindbergh still had him/her. I’m not up for going through all of her books page by page looking for references to Patsy, but I could get a list of her titles and perhaps some or all of them have indexes.

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